* The AFC Final Field:
1. 13-3 Baltimore Ravens (win tiebreaker with Patriots via head-to-head victory)
2. 13-3 New England Patriots (best remaining record amongst division champions)
3. 11-5 Kansas City Chiefs (best remaining record amongst division champions)
4. 10-6 Tennessee Titans (best remaining record amongst division champions)
5. 10-6 San Diego “Super Chargers” (win tiebreaker with broncos via conference record)
6. 10-6 denver broncos (best remaining record)
7. 9-7 Buffalo Bills (best remaining record)
8. 8-8 Jacksonville Jaguars (win tiebreaker with Jets via head-to-head victory)
9. 8-8 New York Jets (best remaining record)
10. 7-9 Houston Texans (win tiebreaker with Steelers via conference record)
11. 7-9 Pittsburgh Steelers (best remaining record)
12. 6-10 oakland raiders (best remaining record)
13. 5-11 Cincinnati Bengals (best remaining record)
14. 3-13 Miami Dolphins (best remaining record)
15. 2-14 Cleveland Browns (win tiebreaker with Colts via head-to-head win)
16. 2-14 Indianapolis Colts (only remaining team)
* The Wildcard Round
Mixology 2012 Song to Describe Said Round: “Daydream Believer” by the Monkees. Sorry if I already used this one, but consider what I project Wildcard 2012 to be: Philly vs Dallas (epic grudge match). The Battle of the Bay of Pigs, in the words of the late, great Pete Axthelm (Green at Tampa). A throwaway game to start Saturday on NBC (San Diego at Tennessee … which still will be entertaining). And God willing in the late Sunday slot?
A matchup I’ve waited fifteen fucking (unedited) years to exact revenge for. A postseason showdown that’s happened exactly one time in history, on my 21st birthday. A game that to this day, I get nightmares about. A game that I still have the damned rally towel for, because I know that someday, our shot at avenging the injustice of January 1998 will present itself, and I want a relic from that abortion of a moment to be there to cleanse its soul of the stink of that day.
Revenge is a dish best served with a long, steel dagger struck deep into the spine. Or ideally, the neck, of our arch-rival’s quarterback …
(5) Chargers 34, at (4) Titans 13. I really like this Chargers team. In a big way. In a “they’re a legitimate Lombardi Trophy threat” kind of way. A tune up before one EPIC matchup in either Foxboro or Baltimore the next week.
(6) broncos 21, at (3) Chiefs 24. This one? Would be all levels of exercising a demon for me. The Chiefs are 0 for peyton in the playoffs. They’re 0 for denver in the playoffs. They’re 0 for anyone in the playoffs since I was a junior in high school, and here’s a hint – I’d be 36 when this game would occur. (Admit it, you just read that and thought “my God, how is someone who looks this damned amazing going to be 36 in four months? Oh, you didn’t think that? Well, you SHOULD have thought that.)
It’s time, Chiefs fans, to buy into what this organization is selling. We’ve waited 19 years for a playoff win. Why CAN’T 2012 be the year the futility ends? Our “good buddy”, Ol’ Pete King, who has written exactly seventeen positive words about the Chiefs in the last twenty years, projects us to win the AFC West and win a wildcard game. Our good buddy Hub Arkesh, publisher of Pro Football Weekly, has the Chiefs not only winning the AFC West, he has us winning the whole damned conference! This isn’t delusional Stevo making these picks – these are (allegedly) reputable, respected NFL experts!
* The Divisional Round.
Mixology 2012 Song to Describe Said Round: “Don’t Stop Believin’” by Journey. Two rising AFC West teams looking to achieve their break through. Two powerhouse east coast AFC teams facing their potential last gasp at greatness. Old guard vs new blood. In the words of AJ to Tony and Carm at the table at Holstens as this song hit its crescendo: “remember the good times, right?”
(5) Chargers 34, at (1) Ravens 24. Love this matchup for San Diego. Rivers can throw all day against a weak-at-best Ravens secondary. The one true strength on defense San Diego has is stopping the run. Chargers emerge with an “easier than expected” victory.
(3) Chiefs 24, at (2) Patriots 14. If they played ten times, the Patriots would probably win nine. But not this day. Not this time. For as great of a player and champion as they are, Brady and Belichick have crapped out at home quite extensively the last few years – wildcard loss to the Ravens in 2009, humiliating demolishing by the Jets in Foxboro in the divisional round in 2010, and they should have lost to the Ravens in the AFC Title Game last year (Ravens dropped a touchdown inside the final minute, then shanked the game winning field goal from 28 yards out as time expired). The Chiefs keep it rolling, setting up a day I have waited a lifetime for …
* The Conference Championship
Mixology 2012 Song to Describe Said Round: “The Time Of My Life” by David Cook. If I’m gonna be this biased and completely ridiculous in my predictions, I might as well go all out.
(5) Chargers 31, at Chiefs (3) 21. I can’t do it. God knows I want to … but San Diego’s the better team. The Chargers are simply too talented to let their window close without at least one Hunt Trophy, and I fear this is the year they do it. Even at my team’s expense.
AFC Champions: Your San Diego “Super” Chargers.
Super Bowl Prediction: Chargers over Bucs.
Super Bowl Champions: come on, sing it, you know you want to: